Constitution Research

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To: Soldier of Fortune

Attn: Robert K. Brown, James L. Pate

This is to commend the excellent article by James L. Pate, "Witch Hunt for The Resister", in the February, 1996, issue of Soldier of Fortune. As usual, Pate is bringing us important information we could not get any other way.

I take exception to one point, however: his use of the adjective "right-wing" to refer to militias. Use of that pejorative is buying into the Establishment disinformation campaign against the Militia, which consists of the entire population of an area, not just those who are active at some level. Nor are the terms "right-wing" or "left-wing" applicable to constitutional issues, which is what the militias are activating to deal with, but only to policy issues.

As the person who arguably launched the national militia movement over the Internet, and who is personally acquainted with militia activists across the country, I can testify that on policy issues militia activists are solidly centrist. They are the same kind of people who became active in the Perot movement, and who split their votes about evenly between Republican and Democrat when they are not voting Libertarian.

Historically, "right-wing" referred to those who identified with the government and the aristocracy, and "left-wing" to those who identified with farmers and industrial workers. In defending the oppressed against official oppression, the militia movement has more in common with the "left" than with the "right", although it does not buy into "economic reform" or "redistribution", only "legal reform", specifically, constitutional compliance.

Concerning the discussion of "democracy" vs. "constitutional republicanism", the following breakdown is useful in making sense of the issue:

As can be seen from this breakdown, what patriots are objecting to when they reject "democracy" is a lumping together of non-constitutional varieties of democratic government, which is government that is accountable to the people -- that is, based on the theory that officials are agents of the people and not their masters. The key concept is that of a constitution (written or non-written) which is the supreme law and which supersedes statutes and other official acts which are made later, or, in other words, a supreme law that cannot be amended by later statutes. Central to the idea of constitutional republicanism are the principles that:

  1. Officials are agents of the people, and may exercise only those powers explicitly delegated to them by the people through the constitution.
  2. Certain rights are inalienable (not subject to deprivation, even with consent, or by any amendment). In other words, the people themselves do not have such power to be delegated to officials.
  3. Rights may not be disabled (restricted in their exercise) except by due process of law, wherein it is proved by competing argument that unrestricted exercise would impair or has impaired the exercise of the rights of others.
  4. Rights and the constitution are threatened by excessive and/or unbalanced concentrations of power, so government must be organized to prevent such concentrations and to give every faction an interest in preserving the constitution in order to protect its own institutional and policy interests. For this purpose, several considerations are important:
    1. There is no way to effectively enforce a constitution (prior supreme law) if the democracy is direct. It must be representative to dissipate the popular passions that might otherwise abandon the constitution and rule solely through legislative (statutory), executive (administrative), and judicial (common) law.
    2. Since a unitary form of organization would also tend to subvert the constitution, to prevent this it is also necessary to divide the functions of government into competing branches, legislative houses, and levels (national, state and local), which can check and balance each other.
  5. Militias arise from the above and from one additional premise: Citizens have the duty to defend the constitution, which includes what we usually call the "community" or the "state", but is a multigenerational social contract which binds us to protect the interests of posterity as well as our own.

Pursuant to that, we have the duty to organize, train, and equip ourselves to defend the constitution effectively, either under the leadership of officials, or independently. Defense includes military defense against a foreign invasion or domestic insurrection, law enforcement, and emergency services. We may find it convenient to hire some of our citizens to perform these functions on a full-time, professional basis, and to confer rank on such persons to supervise private citizens in the performance of those duties, but in doing so we delegate no powers to them that citizens do not retain and which they are obliged to exercise if the situation requires it.

That means that all citizens are soldiers, policemen, and firemen, subject to call-up unless they have official duties that take precedence over their militia duties. Jury duty is, for example, a specialized form of militia duty, in which a limited call-up is issued for a law enforcement function.

Incidentally, we have links to SOF and to The Resister on our Web site.

Jon Roland, President